Exiled former ZANU-PF political commissar and cabinet minister, Savior Kasukwere, has called on government to come up with a comprehensive plan to stop the spread of illegal settlements while relieving the affected victims.

This comes as the government launches Operation “No to Land Barons and Illegal Land Settlements” with an estimated 13,000 villagers facing eviction in Masvingo Province.

According to reports, the government is set to earn more than US$13 million through fines of US$100 on poor citizens who are evicted from state lands.

In December last year, the government pledged to prosecute people who occupy state land without obtaining permission from the responsible ministry, amid concerns about an increase in illegal settlements on agricultural land across the country.

But this ongoing practice has drawn the ire of civil society organizations, such as Women and Land, which said the evictions are illegal and unacceptable.

The organization said that Article 74 of the Constitution stipulates that no person may be evicted from his home without a court order after considering all relevant circumstances.

In a lengthy article on his handle

“Unplanned settlements have sprung up everywhere, and because of corruption the situation is really out of control,” he said.

Kasukwere said the state must move quickly to harmonize land authorities, starting with the village chief, chief, land officials, Members of councils and ministries of lands and local government.

“There is a whole lot of laws that regulate the land, and a lot of times not, they don’t talk to each other and then it becomes chaos. The then Ministry of Cooperatives, the rural authorities and the urban authorities all had the responsibility of managing the land,” he said.

He said a comprehensive plan was necessary because the Local Government Minister was under great pressure to undertake the heavy task of supervising the demolition of homes and exposing vulnerable children and elders.

“On the other hand, if this is not done, chaos will continue. I suggest that the Council of Ministers urgently form a committee to review and harmonize the legal instruments at hand.

“Secondly, identify and plan how to assist the affected families and resettle them legally. I do not need to remind you of the necessity of giving the appropriate title to citizens to avoid the chaos we are witnessing.”

Noting that the road ahead is full of obstacles for the ministry, Kasukuwere said it was necessary for the authorities to communicate effectively for the community to appreciate their intentions.

“Destroying a home is a difficult task for any leader. Without a clearly defined process that citizens can follow if they need the land, the pain and chaos will be with us for some time to come.”

In a statement yesterday, National Police spokesman Paul Nyathi called for cooperation and the provision of information during the operation that began last month.

“The operation began in January 2024 and is progressing well. As of February 12, 2024, 3,775 suspects have been arrested, courts have issued 985 convictions, while 3,360 cases are still on trial,” he said. Newsday

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